Ohio city council member suggests withholding emergency care for those who repeatedly overdose on opioids

Ohio and other Rust Belt states are at the epicenter of the nation's opioid epidemic. Opioid-related deaths, which increased in Ohio by 775 percent between 2003 and 2015, have ravaged Ohio communities — and their finances.

Under a proposed plan by one Middletown, Ohio, city council member, the city would implement a policy that would cap the amount of emergency care for people who repeatedly overdose, according to The Washington Post. In other words, if someone has repeatedly overdosed, authorities wouldn't send an ambulance to resuscitate them.

"It's not a proposal to solve the drug problem," said Middleton City Council member Dan Picard, according to the report. "My proposal is in regard to the financial survivability of our city. If we're spending $2 million this year and $4 million next year and $6 million after that, we're in trouble. We're going to have to start laying off. We're going to have to raise taxes."

Under Mr. Picard's proposal, the city would issue a summons to people who overdose on illegal drugs. After two overdose rescues, the individual would be required to perform community service equal to the amount of money spent to save their life, according to nbc4i.com. If a third overdose occurs, the dispatcher could withhold emergency rescue services if he or she has determined the individual has not completed the community service or cooperated in the program.

The city would also create a database of overdose victims to whom paramedics have responded.

Mr. Picard told The Washington Post that he has sympathy for anyone who has lost a friend or family member to drug abuse, but the cost of responding to an ever-increasing number of emergency overdose calls is unsustainable.

So far in 2017, Middletown paramedics have responded to 598 overdose calls, 300 percent more than at the same point last year. The city has spent more than $2 million responding to opioid overdose cases, about 10 percent of what it collects each year in tax revenue.

Mr. Picard, who has served on city council for nearly eight years, does not plan to run for election when his term ends this year.

More articles on opioids:

Medicaid-covered prescriptions for opioid addiction and overdoses surge by 136% in 5 years

Psychological support can reduce long-term opioid use among chronic pain patients

Synthetic opioid residue poses public health risk, say Georgia police

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